Wilbur Ross Has Two Days to Ask Supreme Court to Halt Census Deposition

(Bloomberg) -- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has 48 hours to ask the Supreme Court to block his deposition in a lawsuit challenging his decision to include a question about U.S. citizenship in the 2020 census after an appeals court refused to stop the interview.

Advocacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and more than a dozen states, cities and counties have sued the department over Ross’s decision to add a question asking U.S. residents about their citizenship status to the census. They say the move discriminates against immigrants and will reduce the accuracy of the count by lessening participation.

A federal judge last month ordered Ross to sit for a deposition, saying he has first-hand knowledge related to the claims and was "personally and directly involved in the decision, and the unusual process leading to it, to an unusual degree." A Manhattan-based appeals court on Tuesday denied a request to block the deposition or put it on hold, while leaving a temporary stay in place for the Commerce Department to turn to the Supreme Court.

Should the Commerce Department appeal, the case could produce the first significant decision by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was appointed to his seat this past weekend after a bitter confirmation fight.

The case has already forced the department to surrender documents showing that Ross chose to include the question before consulting with the Justice Department, despite his testimony that the decision was made at its request. The Commerce Department notes that information about citizenship has been included in the Census since the 1800s.

The case is New York v. U.S. Department of Commerce, 18-cv-2921, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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